New Shanghai Ashfield, along busy Liverpool Street, have completed their renovations. The restaurant re-opened a month ago and their customer fan base has been growing ever since. The restaurant was in need of a much needed facelift and the investment has certainly paid off. A smart decision considering that this area has an abundance of Chinese restaurants nearby. New Shanghai is also in a perfect locale, right opposite Ashfield Mall, and a block away from Ashfield train station.
I was recently invited by Wasamedia to come and experience their food in their newly renovated premises. Overall, I was (and still am) impressed. Like any New Shanghai restaurant, the staff were extremely efficient and quick on their feet. There was barely an empty table in sight. I was extremely grateful for this experience.
Dumplings being made right in front of our very eyes.
Much to my surprise, I was treated to an a-la-carte turned banquet feast with a group of 11 other people from the media. There are two private rooms that seat 12 people in addition to the open dining area, and I was enjoying my dinner in one of them.
Some kelp and a selection of the cold meats with tea.
The cold dish selection was served on a massive platter. All eyes were in awe at the amazing array of fresh and cold meats, tofu and jellyfish selections. The duck and pork terrine pieces were refreshing, and such meat selections made for great appetisers. If I was asked to choose a couple of favourite dishes from this selection, the chicken dipped in red wine sauce was flavoursome and filling. The chicken was tender. The bite size portions were cut up nicely and with respect. There were some small chunks of broccoli nestled in between the meat cuts.
Handling the tofu - the cold dish of the day on this occasion.
However, the clear winner from the cold food starter would have to be the tofu. There is no dry aftertaste in your mouth. The rich, delicate tofu pieces were cleansing on the palate, with a smooth texture. Very moist and easy to digest. The tofu was the first cold selection to have been gobbled up on this delicious platter. That speaks volumes in itself.
Further to the cold food selection came a separate serving of kelp. It blended in nicely with the meats, and I just whimsically left the sauce aside. The meats with the kelp were like yin and yang, as they were in perfect harmony with each other, particularly alongside our traditional Chinese tea, which were cleaned out in literally no time at all. Our group just needed more of the clear stuff - water. As one jug arrived, within seconds that same jug would be empty. This is bearing in mind that our only alternative was to pour the water into our little teacups.
Some of the good old fried stuff was also there for the taking when it came to enjoying the starters. It was natural to tuck into the cold platter first, followed by a spring roll. Crispy, flavoursome and well cooked. The rolls weren't greasy. Nice one.
Some stir-fry vegetables catered to the vegetarians when it came to the mains, as well as the Chinese Rice Cake dish. The Rice Cake was surprisingly delicious and would be easily described as the Chinese version of gnocchi. Little bite sized pieces were enjoyed, similar to the size of large mung beans. The bok choy was steamed to a fine art. Really tasty.
The main chicken dish with peanuts made way for a few slippery suckers. These pieces were cooked with a lot of TLC, and the pieces were cut beautifully into adequate bite sized pieces. Once again, no condiments were really required. The authentic Chinese flavour came alive. Don't know how, it just did.
Prawns with Egg Yolk was also available for the taking. Come the first plate of this dish, enthusiasm came beating down the door of culinary delights. An interesting taste. The coating was quite powdery, yet this dish was just utterly delicious. Come the second serving, the dish had now become passe. One serving was more than enough. Still, what a unique and cleverly executed dish. Eat and pray for more amazing food.
The Chinese feast beckoned and our wishes were granted. "This is enough food to feed us all for a week" were such remarks uttered randomly at our table. This experience felt like Christmas dinner. You eat, you're stuffed, yet you're satisfied and you need a nap. No different to sitting at the dinner table at a dinner party hosted by Greeks and Italians. A feast fit for a king experience.
Tucking into the delicious self assembled Peking Duck pancakes.
Mouths began to water when the pieces of duck arrived. The cucumber pieces, the special sauce and the bread bases landed on the table piece by piece. However, the bread bases (like tortillas) were too thin and easily stuck together. It would have been ideal if we were given a flat plate to lay the bread out to conveniently place the cucumber and the special sauce on top. Naturally, trying to do the same over a smallish bowl proved rather cumbersome. But the short challenge was worth it, as the duck was just sensational. Well cooked, the way duck should be cooked. This dish was delicious and was the most raved about main at our table.
Some more vegetarian friendly dishes, including some yummy dumplings.
Now to one of Sydney's most popular and cherished foods. Even 7-Eleven has caught onto this amazing taste sensation: that's right, the dumplings. The New Shanghai experience would not be complete if it wasn't for the dumplings. There is always room for dumplings. The fried dumplings with sesame seeds came out of hiding, and the plate was cleaned up in no time. The filling was rather hot and juicy. They were fried was just right. If these dumplings were cooked for a second longer, the dish would just be good, not great. Some vegetarian dumplings were enjoyed too, yet the fried dumplings were just great. This raises a great point: why do us humans gravitate towards the fried stuff first?
Some interesting conversations were enjoyed as the ribs and a pork soup were served. The pork pieces were delicious yet a bit too spicy for me. I'm normally not a fan of fried rice, however I was won over after just one bite. New Shanghai have changed my opinion of fried rice forever.
The Pork Belly arrived, and the pieces were just smooth. The pieces complimented the well steamed bok choy nicely once more.
You would be forgiven for thinking that our group was in heaven right now, and speaking of abundance, we haven't even had a chance to taste dessert yet until the fried ice cream arrived. The entire group was quite full. At this point, one fried ice cream was shared between two.
New Shanghai have also changed my perceptions about fried ice cream. The batter was tender and not as crispy as you'd expect. Take a bite and you would be forgiven for thinking that you're eating a subtle lemon sponge cake with unmelted ice cream in the centre. I'm converted. From now on, I'll only eat fried ice cream at New Shanghai Ashfield in the future. If that wasn't enough, a colourful fruity dessert then came out which I passed on. I was too full with a little appetite to begin with. Some red bean delights arrived, and they were piping hot. I was addicted, I wanted more. The red bean paste with the pastry coating was different yet divine.
Cold drinks heaven arrived. Someone just wanted water, and someone else opted for a Diet Coke. For the rest of our group, we were all in sync. "Lemon iced tea please." So glad I requested a glass with ice to pour my Lipton iced tea into. It just didn't make sense to drink directly from a bottle after this feast. It was a fitting finale to enjoy drinking half the glass.
Come 8:30pm, only two hours late,r we were satisfied. It felt like we left to the tune that all 12 of us suddenly had ants in our pants. I know that is not a pleasant analogy. Time does tick on when you're having fun.
Overall verdict: amazing food and I will be back for more.
Next time with my partner or with a small group of close friends.
Thank you very much New Shanghai Ashfield. That's amore.